Anyone who has studied martial arts knows someone with an inspiring story, or has experienced the transformative powers of martial arts firsthand. Countless children have benefitted from the self-discipline, respect, and confidence learned through committing one's self to the study of martial arts, and as martial artists, we know that these wonderful benefits are the norm. In Ethan's case, however, martial arts completely changed his life. Ethan was diagnosed with Autism, and his mother was desperate to help him.
Ethan's mom, Mara Fineshriber, recently shared her son's story with AutismSpeaks.org:
"I decided he really needed more exercise and to be forced to interact with more people. I gave him a choice between soccer, T-ball, or karate. He emphatically told me no to all. I said choose or I will choose for you, which ultimately resulted in my loading him in the car and off to the nearest local ATA Taekwondo school. He resisted at first, but once there, found he liked it. Martial arts has a special way of helping kids with varying issues learn focus, discipline, self confidence, and drive. Ethan had an immediate affinity for the sport and it caused those around him to want to make friends. He finally fit in. He excelled. He began to speak more. He became more coordinated. And then... he began to win!
Ethan's instructor suggested he try a national competition and when that yielded a first place finish, urged us to consider having him compete to some day earn the title of world champion. He has been training for more than 2 years in this endeavor and last year came very close by tying for first but losing the tie-breaker to take 2nd in the world! He has continued to train and will try again this year to earn a world championship title in two different leagues, the ATA (American Taekwondo Association) and the NBL (National Black Belt League). He is currently ranked first in the world in two events and is top 5 in a few others."
Read the whole inspiring story at AutismSpeaks.org HERE.
Way to go, Ethan!